Coach Rachel Smith expects her players to make a certain level of commitment when they join the Piedmont (Ala.) High School softball team. She calls it a “Championship Commitment,” and it’s spelled out in an essay she wrote for her players.
“Any sport that you play is a microcosm of real life,” Smith wrote. “There are times when things are good and times when things aren't so good. There are times that you get hurt and times when you seem invincible. Just like in sports, to win in life you have to prepare. And just like in life, that preparation does not begin and end with just showing up for your practices and games. Any coach with experience will tell you that the very best players always set themselves apart by what they do on their own during their ‘free’ time.”
Smith goes on to say she’s looking for more than just constant commitment — but a Championship Commitment.
“It's the type of commitment where every decision you make, down to the number of reps you complete (and how you complete them), the food you eat, the company you keep and what you choose to do with your free time reflects the goal you want to achieve,” she wrote. “A team member that is truly committed will exhibit Championship Commitment to the team goal(s) in all areas of their lives … not just during practices and games.”
Smith says that dedication — beyond just practices and games — will lead to success on and off the field. That’s what she looks for in a player.
All coaches are looking for a special quality in their players when they’re selecting teams or starters or leaders. We asked coaches from across the country what qualities they look for — and a good attitude was far more important than anything to do with talent.
Luke Sheppard, Smyrna (Tenn.) High
“Effort and coachability. Those go hand in hand. If they give effort and they’re coachable, I don’t care how talented they are.”
Glynn Lott, Macon East Academy (Cecil, Ala.)
“Understanding and being a team player and realizing it’s not all about you and your stats.”
Paula Miller, The Woodlands (Texas) High
“Heart and dedication. Mediocre athletes can achieve at high levels if they are motivated to learn and work. Great athletes often fall short of their goals and underachieve because they are not committed enough to work hard.”
James McClanahan, Fort Bend (Texas) Ridge Point High
John Chilman, Las Vegas Faith Lutheran
“The will to win. If I cannot find players who want to win I look for players who refuse to lose. As Henry Ford once said, ‘If you think you can or if you think you can't; you're right.’”
Joseph Huber, Mesquite (Texas) Poteet High
“Leadership and the ability to play multiple positions successfully.”